Making Cents of Money Podcast
As part of ongoing efforts to meet the needs of consumers where they are across the state of Illinois, the Illinois Division of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) and the University of Illinois Student Money Management Center (SMMC) teamed up to create a podcast!
The first episode features co-hosts Nikki Giancola-Shanks and Andrea Pellegrini talking about their backgrounds in financial education, upcoming podcast topics, and why they are passionate about consumer advocacy.
Nikki: Welcome to the first episode of Making Sense of money. I'm one of your host, Nikki Giancola-Shanks
Andrea: And I'm Andrea Pellegrini.
Nikki: So what is this podcast? - Making Sense of Money. So Andrea and I wanted to create a podcast series that explores financial education topics in a wide range of levels from very basic to more advanced to to help everybody out there.
We are very aware that when people hear the words finance or money as some sort of topic. It's very cool. It sounds boring and difficult and not like something you want to listen to. But our goal is to make this podcast both interesting and easy to understand, you will try to in insert our lame humor as much as possible.
So besides the two of us who you'll learn a little bit more about on we will also be inviting some experts in the fields on on a variety of different topics. So you could hear, not just from us, but from people who have much more hands on experience.
Andrea: So some of the topics that we are planning on covering include will cover a little bit about budgeting, because that's the simplest form of money management, but we'll also talk about credit and we'll get into deeper topics like wealth disparity within racial groups and we'll be covering lots of different topics that coincide with our webinar series, we're going to release two podcasts, a month. So look forward to that.
Nikki: Alright, so why did we decide to launch this podcast together.
So just a few statistics to kind of throw it out there and 50% of Americans currently live paycheck to paycheck, according to a market watch, and 43% of Americans spend more money than they make each month. And they fill that gap in by using credit cards to cover the shortfall. That's according to the Federal Reserve Bank.
And while America may be the world's largest Academy. We only ranked 14th and financial literacy so basic financial literacy literacy skills. We don't even make it into the top 10.
So both Andrea and I believe that financial education is important for people of all ages from first graders through senior citizens.
And the more that you know the more you could plan and make good decisions with your finances that will help you as you travel this crazy life.
Andrea : So who are we? And why do we care about financial education?
I have run the University of Illinois System's Student Money Management Center for 10 years. In addition to that, I have publications about how to run financial education programs out of colleges or universities.
I've done a lot of research around financial education initiatives specifically for college students also for international students, for first generation students, for College of Medicine students, all kinds of students in different categories or in different life stages.
I've also run data analysis projects for all kinds of Financial Education interventions and communication interventions to improve transparency for consumers at colleges, specifically, University of Illinois.
I've also been the director of new initiatives for the Higher Education Financial Wellness Alliance for the past year, so I have quite a few other things under my belt. I also worked in mental health and substance abuse treatment. Prior to working for the University of Illinois. So I have a lot of background in behavioral economics and be real change management. So those are things that I'm also really passionate about, in addition to consumer advocacy.
Nikki: And my path to being passionate about financial education is a little long, and not a straight line.
I started out actually teaching middle school social studies and English. And so I was a teacher for five years and then I kinda I'm retired now. I did not leave teaching because I didn't love it. I love working with kids, but I did have an opportunity to work with then President Barack Obama. So I went and did that for a few years and then I made my way over to the state government side and I really wanted.
I loved teaching, but I had a lot of issues with the larger policies that affected my kids. And so I knew that I wanted to be involved on the policy side of things. So I worked in the governor's office under Governor Pat Quinn and then I worked in the treasurer's office as the director of financial education where I was able to kind of combine my love of teaching and skills associated with that with financial education. And that's really when I became super passionate about it.
And the bottom line is, is a lot of US financial education skills are basic life skills that people need in order to succeed. And right now I understand teachers have so much on their plates that they don't always get to get into the meat of some of the stuff. So it kind of became my mission to help supplement and and provide teachers and community partners and libraries and whoever wants more financial education to give them more resources.
I now work at the Illinois Department of Financial Professional Regulation, better known as IDFPR within the Division of Banking and I'm the Director of External Affairs and student loan policy so like I said, it was a winding road butI believe that making sure people have access to high quality easy to understand financial education makes a big difference in their lives.
Andrea: And I think Nikki you and I's backgrounds and skills complement each other in a really unique way. We both have a background in education. I have a masters in human resource development and part of big part of that is instructional design. I care about the consumer advocacy aspect of education from a lot of different perspectives, but I don't have a role in policy only in interpreting policy and what that looks like to consumers. And how are we ethically presenting information that's clear, that people can understand and where can we fill in the gaps when people are actually making choices. So combining kind of the, the formal education background that you have and I have more of an informal approach to education and just in time, education, and that's where we are hoping that this podcast can play a role in helping people make decisions as they come to that point right not everyone's going to need to know about mobile wallets until they're analyzing them ,for instance.
Nikki: And I think to that both of us. The way that we complement each other as Andrew was saying when we are putting together a different podcast with my policy side we're hoping to also talk about some policies specifically that may be getting introduced either on a state or national level on
Andrea works for the University of Illinois, and I work for the state of Illinois will be more Illinois focused, but occasionally we may pull an examples from other states as well so we hope that this podcast is kind of a mash of allowing people to learn the skills that they need to be successful with their finances, but also to be aware of what's happening on a on a policy level that hey, if this passes, then I know that I can do this. And, you know, these are the protections that are guaranteed to me by law, that I may not have been aware of and and I could report these things and and things like that.
Andrea: I think it's important as we make plans to discuss financial topics that any listeners anderstand that finances is a very fluid topic and it changes; policies change. New technology is invented every single day that impacts our finances, it could be financial technology specifically. It could be different methods of transactions. It could be the way that we spend influences on spending. So staying up to date on new policies and new protections and new ways of spending money is really important to make informed choices and plan your spending and grow wealth. Right? That's what some of the goals are to putting your financial house in order, so to speak.
Nikki: And we do realize we're also happy and happened to be launching this podcast in the middle of national pandemic, so I know that probably will be talking a little bit about. We're very well aware of how has impacted people's finances, so we will try to make sure when we talk about budgeting and we understand people's budgets have just drastically changed within the last six months. So we will be making sure we're talking about that as well.
Andrea: Absolutely. I think it's really important to address the fact that everyone's in kind of a crisis in different ways right now.
So in addition to podcasts. We also partner with several other institutions across the state. So IDFPR, University of Illinois System, University of Illinois Extension, Loyola University, DePaul University, lots of institutions that provide financial education across the state on this webinar series that we do every year called Get Savvy: Grow Your Green Stuff.
Our first webinar will be on...
Nikki: September 23
Andrea: September 23 at noon. So you can register at go.uillinois.edu/getsavvywebinars. I'm sure we will put a link in our description somewhere.
Nikki: And that topic is actually um,
Andrea: Financial Tools for Uncertain Times
Nikki: I was like, I know the key words. Yes. So, um, we thought that that'd be a great one to kick off the webinar series with considering it's very uncertain times for a lot of people right now.
So we hope that you'll tune tune in to both the podcasts and the webinars. One of our first official podcasts and September is going to focus on banks and credit unions, kind of, what are they, what do they do, what does it mean to have a bank or credit union account on what what does it mean to be unbanked and how can that affect you.
Andrea: Our second podcast will cover digital wallets. So if you aren't sure what village digital wallets are we're going to tell you what they are and where do you find them. What are all the apps associated with digital wallets. So stay tuned.